Colombia Rejects Merlano’s Accusations And Asks Venezuela To Deliver It

The Colombian Government rejected the accusations against President Iván Duque made this Thursday before a Venezuelan court in Caracas by former Congressman Aída Merlano and demanded that the Nicolás Maduro regime give it to the Colombian justice, of which he is a fugitive. “These statements have no foundation, are opportunistic and are a fabrication of the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro who seek to attack the honor of the president of the Republic of Colombia and try to violate the credibility of Colombian institutions,” said Minister of Justice Margarita White Hair, in a statement read to the press in Bogotá. Merlano, who was a representative to the Chamber in the 2014-2018 period by the department of Atlántico, was serving a 15-year prison sentence for electoral corruption in a prison in Bogotá. However, on October 1 he took advantage of his transfer to a dental office to escape through a window using a rope and only became known again on January 27 when he was captured in Maracaibo by the Venezuelan Police. PERSECUTION OF POLICIES When testifying before a court in Caracas today, Merlano said Duque intends to assassinate her and asked Venezuela for help so that her case is filed before international authorities. “I am persecuted by the president of my country, Iván Duque, with the intention of killing me,” he said. The former congresswoman also launched accusations of corruption against other Colombian politicians, including former Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras, former mayor of Barranquilla and former Atlantic Governor Alex Char and other members of his family, as well as businessman Julio Gerlein. “The dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro, instead of producing this media show, must immediately hand over Mrs. Aída Merlano to the national authorities so that she can serve her sentence in Colombia,” the Minister of Justice added in the statement she read in the Casa de Nariño in the company of the director of the Police, General Óscar Atehortúa. Merlano said his escape was “organized by a leading political class in the country with the collaboration of Vargas Lleras and the (former) Attorney General of the Nation” Néstor Humberto Martínez, who resigned from office last May. The expatriate explained that she entered Venezuela illegally by “despair” and with the aim of “seeking refuge” because after her escape she was kidnapped in order to assassinate her. “After I threw myself off the rope, the Duke Government abducted me. The kidnappers told me everything, they were going to kill me and bury me so they would never find me in a farm in Valledupar (capital of the department of Cesar)”, said. She also said that while she was kidnapped she was the victim of abuse, without specifying what type, by her captors, but did not give details of how she escaped from them and crossed the border with Venezuela. SEARCHED BY INTERPOL In response to Merlano’s accusations, the police director recalled that the fugitive has been wanted since November 30, 2019 by Interpol with a red circular “for concerted crimes for aggravated crime, corruption to the suffragant and possession of firearms and ammunition. ” General Atehortúa added that on January 29, after being informed of the arrest of Merlano in Venezuela, “the Interpol Colombia office made the request to process a capture order for extradition purposes to the special first instance chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia “. The arrest of Merlano triggered a verbal confrontation between Maduro and Duque as the Venezuelan president offered to resume “at a consular level” the broken diplomatic relations since February 23 of last year, which was ruled out by the Colombian head of state. Duque had previously claimed that Merlano’s extradition would be requested from the head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, whom his Government recognizes as “legitimate president” of Venezuela, which was qualified by Maduro as “ridiculous.” At the time of his arrest, Merlano was accompanied by Yeico Manuel Vargas Silvera, who has been charged for the alleged commission of the crimes of cover-up and association to commit crimes. In Venezuela, the former congresswoman faces charges for the alleged participation in the commission of the crimes of using false documents, identity theft and association to commit crimes.